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Earn Credit for Prior Learning

Capella University values the knowledge you bring to your degree program. Our Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) program allows you to earn credit when you demonstrate relevant, college-level knowledge gained through:

  • Formal and informal work training
  • Continuing education programs
  • Self-instruction
  • Professional certifications
  • Other learning experiences

Your enrollment counselor can help you determine how your prior learning can save you time and money on your degree. Email us, or call 866.808.8681 for more information.


The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning recently found that graduation rates are two and a half times higher for students with prior learning credit.

+ How PLA Works

There are two ways to earn credit through Capella's Prior Learning Assessment process:



Demonstrate your degree from knowledge of Capella course competencies through a written assessment. Describe how you've learned the concepts and how you applied that knowledge. A Capella faculty expert will then review the completed petition to determine if credit should be awarded. A free Prior Learning Assessment is available to offer step-by-step guidance through the development of your petition.


Documented Credit

Capella values the knowledge you’ve demonstrated by earning your industry recognized professional certifications. Our academic experts have evaluated select certifications that are relevant to our degree programs and reflect learning that aligns with Capella’s competency-based curriculum. Submission of documented credit materials is a streamlined process, as your knowledge has already been assessed through attaining your certification.

More than 100 certifications have been evaluated against Capella’s curriculum. Certifications commonly reviewed for PLA credit at Capella include:

  • CCNA—Cisco Certified Networking Associate
  • CISSP—Certified Information Systems Security Professional
  • CompTIA
  • PHR—Professional in Human Resources
  • PMP—Project Management Professional
  • POST–Peace Officer Standards and Training/ CJSTC–Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission

Your enrollment counselor is a valuable resource for any questions you may have regarding Documented Credit.

Capella University delivered as promised. The university's commitment of excellence to its learners was exemplified in the Prior Learning Assessment process from beginning to end.

Michael Ross,Graduate of MS in Information Systems and Technology Management

+ PLA Programs Offered



  • Business
  • Criminal Justice
  • General Education (select courses)
  • Health Care Administration
  • Information Technology
  • Nursing
  • Psychology


  • Business
  • Information Technology
  • Nonprofit Management and Leadership
  • Public Administration
  • Human Services
  • Nursing
  • Health Administration


+ Potential Time and Money Savings

The Prior Learning Assessment process requires effort, but the long-term payoffs can be substantial. Capella students who earn credit through the PLA process graduate 1 to 4 quarters earlier and with half the debt of other alumni.

How much could you save by taking a Prior Learning Assessment?

Let's say you're well into your career, and you've already earned a certification recognized by Capella, such as your CCNA. You decide to enroll in a bachelor’s program at Capella. By going through the documented credit process, you earn 12 quarter credits for the knowledge demonstrated by your certification. Next — based on the knowledge and experience you've gained during your career — you decide to submit two petitions demonstrating your mastery of the competencies for two courses in your program. The petitions are reviewed by faculty experts and approved, resulting in 12 additional credits. These 24 total credits would save you approximately $7,800 and move your graduation date up by about one year.

+ PLA Eligibility

PLA is available when the following criteria are met:

  • You are currently enrolled in a program at Capella.
  • You have completed your first course (not always applicable: your enrollment counselor can help clarify this)
  • Both the course and the program you wish to apply PLA credit toward are eligible for PLA and aligned with the requirements of your program.

Your enrollment counselor can help you determine if you are eligible for our Prior Learning Assessment. Email us, or call 1.866.679.9682 to learn more.

View Capella's Prior Learning Assessment policy.

Fees for Prior Learning Assessment

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) fees are charged to evaluate and award academic credit for the knowledge you've demonstrated. Reference the tuition and fees page in the Capella course catalog for current PLA assessment fees. Residents of Washington may receive credit through our prior learning assessment only in the bachelor's and MBA programs.